“Get your exercise clothes and bring a stretcher for later,” Zarine Watson signed off ominously when I called her for an appointment. With many painful sessions of ab crunches under the belt I was no gym newbie to be scared so easily. But it soon turned out that Watson, much like her compact gym, packed quite a punch.
At first glance, Watson doesn’t look like the sort of instructor who could lead you to a stretcher —a little over 5ft tall, with a French manicure and high ponytail, and sipping green tea.
The ground floor has seven Gravity Training System (GTS) machines, which Watson uses for individual and group sessions. With about 200 exercises that can be done on almost all muscle groups, each machine could be a complete gymnasium in itself. Though Watson made it look as easy as a playground slide, I didn’t exactly have an easy time on it. But it was something new and as someone thoroughly jaded by the gym routine, I enjoyed it.
Watson’s gym also has regular equipment, including treadmills, the VibroGym and the Stability Swiss Balls found in other gyms, along with the Power Slide (a flat sheet on which you can stand and slide from side to side) and Bosu (a stability ball with a flat base).
Most of her clients are from showbiz and workouts are only by appointment. “If you cancel, I’ll send my men after you,” Watson jokes. I went through the entire gamut under her supervision, and came out unscathed.
Pros:A great option if you’re looking for a highly personalized exercise regime; an alternative to the cookie-cutter, big gym workouts.
Cons: You may be too busy looking at Bipasha Basu and Hrithik Roshan to concentrate on your workout.
Cash: Rs1,500 upwards per session.
At Bungalow 6-B, 20th Road, Khar (W), Mumbai
The dance studio reverberated with hooting, clapping and thumping as I entered for my first krumping session. Krumping is an African-American street dance form that developed in south-central Los Angeles. “It began as a way to release anger and aggression in a non-violent way,” Melvin Louis, the instructor, says. My first instinct was to bolt, but I resisted. If the schoolgirl with red highlights could do it, so could I.
Trying to mimic Louis, with my arms in the air, I tried to clap my hands twice, jump, spin around 180 degrees, all at the same time, lost my balance and hit the person next to me. Who said this was non-violent?
The others around me, in co-ordinated movements, were slapping their thighs, stomping their feet, swaying their bodies, and every routine ended with a loud “hey!” “Louder,” Louis shouted. Inspired, I mustered all the frustration and anger that I could, took a deep breath and shouted, “Hey!” Compared to the regulars, it came out as a mere whimper.
Pros:A fun cardio workout that also works the ab muscles.
Cons:Only for those who can muster enough angst and are young in mind and body.
Cash: Rs150 per session.
At Arts in Motion Studio, Sion (East), Mumbai
Power Plate Studio
“Fifteen minutes on this machine is as good as working out in the gym for 45 minutes. Busy professionals will save so much time and after all, time is money”. The Power Plate person sells the workout with practised ease.
What sounds like a device from the gym at Hogwarts was introduced in India two years ago, but was only popular with those who could afford the steep price. Now the company has decided to open studios at clubs where people can get memberships and work out with certified trainers.
The machine has fitness and wellness benefits. It’s supposed to benefit the skin, prevent ageing, help beat stress and even osteoporosis.
After the warm-up, we started with lower body exercises. A few reps of squats on the vibrating machine for 60 seconds at low amplitude and intensity had me dry-mouthed and gasping for air. As I chugged down a glass of water, I was explained the intensity of the workout—I had just done an equivalent of 900 squats. Just 15 minutes, three times a week is good enough. “There’ll be no pain the next day,” the instructor promised.
Using the straps attached to the vibrating platform, I worked out my biceps and triceps and also a bit of abs, lat muscles and calf raises. To cool down, I got a back massage. In 20 minutes, he had taken me through a range of exercises. It was taxing, but I could have kept going. A workout had never felt this compact and hassle-free. You get complete attention from the instructor when you’re on the machine.
Pros:If you can afford it, Power Plate makes for a great home workout.
Cons:Not for those looking to build serious muscles.
Cash:Rs650 per session.
At The Club, Andheri (W), Mumbai. Visit www.powerplate.com
I always fantasized that a personal trainer would be my cure-all for laziness. It’s a lot harder to skip your workout when you have someone yelling at you to “do one more set!”
It seemed I had found the perfect personal trainer when a friend introduced me to Vidur Sodhani. Soft-spoken and slender, Sodhani looks more like a kindly businessman than a testosterone-crazed gym nut. But he wouldn’t be training me; his computer would.
Sodhani’s gyms look like regular, bustling gyms, albeit slightly better designed. The only real difference is a small computer screen on each machine. These computers, the FitLinxx system, monitor and record everyone’s movements.
The first day, an instructor walks you through a workout, adjusting the cardio and strength to your preferences. He then programs your workout into the computer.
From then on, you simply have to type in your pin number, and the program will tell you the amount of weight you need to shed and the number of reps you need to do. If you lift weights too fast, the computer blinks automatically: “Try a little slower”. You can also see how much progress you make, where you’re slacking and what areas that you’re doing well in.
Personally, there’s something about having a tiny computer screen gently guiding me that makes me feel a little less willing to slack off. And I don’t have to deal with a trainer barking at me to work harder.
Pros: For the gadget-nerds, the scatterbrains and the just plain lazy, it’s the perfect byte-size trainer.
Cons:Dress it up in shiny electronics all you like, it’s still the same old exercises.
Cash:Membership at the club in Gurgaon is around Rs3,000 a month, with Rs8,000 as entry fee. Friends Club costs about half that, but is only available to club members.
At Infinity Tower C, Gurgaon and Friends Club, New Delhi
Melissa A. Bell reviewed Elementation gyms